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Fritz Pollard Alliance strongly urges NFL to boost ‘abysmal’ minority hiring record

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The Fritz Pollard Alliance issued a scathing reaction Monday to the NFL’s most recent coaching hires, saying the league’s “abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking levels of NFL management” is the result of a “flawed system” that must be changed.

The Alliance, an independent organization that works with the NFL to champion diversity, called on the league to “develop specific diversity action plans to improve diversity in all aspects of management.”

Five teams have filled their head-coaching positions during the past two weeks, but only one was a minority: new Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera. Only three of the past 20 coaching hires were minorities, and there are currently four black head coaches in the league. The 2019 NFL racial and gender report card, issued by the University of Central Florida, said that NFL minority hiring is at its worst in the past 15 years.

According to the Alliance, 70.1% of NFL players are minorities. There is only one black general manager and no black team presidents.

“We are in a battle for social justice,” the statement read. “The current system of hiring and promoting talent into the upper levels of NFL management is a flawed system. We cannot expect fairness if business remains status quo. Our focus must shift from counting emblematic victories each year to calling for measurable initiatives that support sustainable progress.”

The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires every team to interview a qualified minority candidate for head-coaching jobs, but it does not affect the hiring decisions of owners. The Alliance called on the NFL to recognize that devotion to diversity can bring “profound good” to the game and would embrace “a belief that the benefactors who contribute to the business of football should also share in the benefits. It embraces a core belief that the Game should be accessible at every level for those that possess the skills and who have the resources to meet their aspirations.”

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NFLPA seeks opt-out clauses for at-risk players, conditional stipends, source says

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The NFL and NFLPA continue to negotiate terms for a return to work and players are requesting financial backing in case they decide to sit out the season.

Among the requests in the players’ recent proposal to the league, according to a source involved:

  • An opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive salary (but not bonuses) if one decides not to play.

  • An opt-out clause for players with at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play.

  • An opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain).

  • A $250,000 stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. That amount rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down.

The definition of “at-risk” is part of the discussion, and procedures for applying for medical opt-outs are not yet finalized.

The league’s June 7 memo listed the following as considerations for high-risk individuals:

Players also want, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, no salary in escrow for 2020 and no reduction in the 2021 salary cap despite projected revenue loss, which they’d prefer to spread over multiple years.

A source told Graziano there are no further conversations scheduled between the NFL and NFLPA on Wednesday, after the two sides talked each of the past two days.

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Chris Jones’ deal with Chiefs the latest move toward a dynasty

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The headline-snaring contract numbers handed out by the Kansas City Chiefs are these: $503 million over 12 years for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and as much as $85 million over four years for defensive tackle Chris Jones.

But the more important numbers for the Chiefs are these: 24 and 26. Those are the ages for Mahomes and Jones, respectively, when they put ink to paper — meaning both will play the primes of their careers in Kansas City.

Jones and Mahomes are just the latest important young players the Chiefs have invested in heavily. The Super Bowl champions have all of their core players now signed through at least 2021 while playing in the primes of their careers, setting up a possible dynasty run. Reciever Tyreek Hill is 26, defensive end Frank Clark 27, safety Tyrann Mathieu 28.

Throw in other good, young players such as receiver Mecole Hardman (22) and safety Juan Thornhill (25) and it’s reasonable to conclude the Chiefs will be on the top of their game not just again in 2020 but for years to come.

Of the core players, all but Mathieu, tight end Travis Kelce (30) and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (31) are signed at least through 2022.

It’s why the Chiefs’ unofficial mantra this offseason has been “Run it back.”

Many of the Chiefs’ other top players also have at least one more seasons in Kansas City. Players such as receiver Sammy Watkins (27), running back Damien Williams (28) and cornerbacks Charvarius Ward (24) and Bashaud Breeland (28) are in the final years of their deals. But the Chiefs have already prepared for their possible departures. Hardman could eventually replace Watkins. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could replace Williams. The Chiefs took two cornerbacks in the lower rounds of the 2020 NFL draft but they believe they got bargains in L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes.

As for Jones, the Chiefs had to keep him off the free-agent market by naming him as their franchise player, iron out a deal with Mahomes and beat the Wednesday deadline before reaching a long-term deal. But they eventually felt comfortable making him their third player behind Clark and Mahomes to get a contract with at least $60 million guaranteed. The Chiefs are the only team with three such contracts.

They gave Jones one of those contracts because they allowed six more points per game without an injured Jones last season than when he was in the lineup. They did it because opposing quarterbacks had a 32 QBR against the Chiefs when Jones was in the game and a 59 QBR when he wasn’t. They did it because he led them in sacks in each of the last two seasons.

But they paid Jones as they did mostly because he’s only 26 and he should continue as one of the NFL’s best defensive players for the life of this deal.



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Dak Prescott extension with Cowboys unlikely before deadline, sources say

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The Dallas Cowboys are unlikely to reach a contract extension with quarterback Dak Prescott by the Wednesday franchise tag deadline, sources tell ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Barring unforeseen momentum over the next 24 hours, the Cowboys anticipate Prescott playing on a $31.4 million franchise tag.

Sources told ESPN’s Todd Archer on Monday that no talks were scheduled before the deadline between the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent, Todd France.

Prescott signed the exclusive franchise tag tender on June 22, which guaranteed he would not miss any of training camp — whenever it will begin. Without a long-term deal by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, Prescott will have to play the season on the tag and the sides can’t talk again about a long-term deal until January.

If the Cowboys were to put the tag on Prescott again in 2021, he would make $37.7 million.

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